The view is picturesque — the stretching terraced paddy fields with green tints. Then you see the Indravati River curving at as the terraces seem to end. Men and women working in the fields despite the hot weather next to closely placed corrugated zinc sheet homes all add to the folksy charm.
Majhi Gaun (Ward-2 of Chandeni Mandan VDC, Kavre) is a beautiful village. More than one-and-a-half hours — on pitched and rough roads — from Dhulikhel, you will find yourself in a different world. As you near the village, you will come face to face with the scars inflicted by the April 25 earthquake. A few houses are standing but bear cracks. However, most of the houses were completely destroyed on that day — just the foundations remain, some have mature maize plants soaking up the sun.
Three months since the 7.6 magnitude quake devastated Nepal. The stone, mud and brick houses with cement-tiled roofs have been replaced here by temporary shelters of corrugated zinc sheets (taharo) randomly in open spaces and fields. The people share their zinc roofs with their livestock and other animals.
And life goes on for the living, as they say. The people here are busy with their daily household chores. Inside the shelters, women are doing the dishes or looking after their children. Men and women are ploughing the field to plant paddy in some of the nearby terraced fields, some are busy weeding the late maize plants.
The death toll from April 25 tremblor and its aftershocks amounts to over 8,000, with 318 deaths have been reported from Kavre. Chandeni Mandan VDC with nine wards has the highest number of earthquake deaths — 35. Majhi Gaun leads with 10 deaths in Chandeni Mandan.
“Most of the houses have been destroyed completely except for the dhalan houses which are about 10 in Chandeni Mandan VDC. Those concrete houses have cracks and people are not living in those,” social mobiliser Gokarna Nepal shares. As per him, people initially took shelter in tarpaulins given by different NGOS, INGOS and individuals. They later shifted to temporary shelters made from donated or reused zinc sheets.
Utilising the zinc sheets and adding few from his pocket in the “once beautiful village that was in the shape of a moon”, 56-year-old Sobit Majhi has made a taharo where he and his wife is living now. He lost his only 16-year-old son in the quake. Since, they (villagers) lost their homes and grains, he lived on the rice that he had grown on the banks of the Indravati and supplies (provided by relatives and donors) like rice and daal while working on his land to planting rice and corn after the quake.
Looking at the future he shares, “We have little land where we can work for a living. If we have time and someone asks us, we will work jyami.”
He adds, “Life is dark for me. I had one son. He is gone now. When I die, there will be no one to perform my last rites. That is my worry. My other problem is that my wife is not in her right senses after our son’s death.”
Despite his woes and uncertainty, he feels, “We will have to do something and survive till our time of death, and that I will do.”
The earthquake changed lives of many. Moving forward like Majhi is 10-year-old Sunkeshra Majhi. “We couldn’t get the grains out of the house. The children couldn’t study. Our house was damaged. Now, we are still facing problems for survival in terms of food and shelter,” she shares. Her two-storied house has not collapsed but it is unfit to live in.
The villages made the temporary shelters themselves working as per their skills. Sunkeshra points out, “The tin house is very hot. We can’t even sit in there and eat. But in this time of sorrow, we have to manage and live harmoniously with all families. We have shared the tiny shelter with three other families (15 in number).”
Among the rubble, like the rest of the villagers Sobit and Sunkeshra are carrying on with their lives carrying their sorrows inside them but with resilience.
A version of this article appears in print on August 02, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.